1208. Otoeoris alpestris elwesi

(1208) Otocoris alpestris elwesi Moore.
Otocoris alpestris elwesi, Fauna. B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 310.
The material obtained by Meinertzhagen, Ludlow and others shows that the range of this Horned Lark may be taken as East of the Tao Kar, Tso Moriri and Panjong Lakes in Ladak to Sikkim, Nepal and West and South Tibet.
This Homed Lark is extremely common on the hills above the Gyantse Plain, whence eggs were first sent to Dresser in 1905 by Capt. R. Steen, With the eggs was sent a note to the effect that the bird was a common one, laying three or four eggs in a flimsy nest of grass.
Since then I have had numerous eggs of this fine Lark sent me by Captain Steen and his numerous successors in Tibet. In many cases the eggs have been accompanied by nests and parent birds with plentiful notes. A summary of the notes, principally Steen’s and Kennedy’s, is the following:—This Horned Lark is very common on the hills above Gyantse from 13,000 feet upwards, but much less so in the Gyantse Plain where few birds breed. They keep to the bare stony hill-sides or desert plateau, where there is little vegetation beyond patches of dry burnt-up grass and a few odd bushes of a very thorny nature and some Tibetan furze. Here the birds breed from the middle of May to the end of July, building their nests on the ground in depressions under some small bush or a tuft of coarse grass. Generally they are fairly well concealed, but now and then one comes on a very conspicuous nest.
The nests which have been sent to me vary considerably. One was quite a good pad of goats’ hair and feathers, mostly of Sand-Grouse and Snow-Cook, with a few roots and pieces of coarse grass and with a good deal of soft vegetable down mixed with the other materials, as well as forming a lining inside. Another nest con¬sisted of a little grass and roots, very loosely put together and lined with cotton-down. Most nests are like this latter in description, but I have been told that other nests are so small and ill-put together that they stand no handling at all and fall to pieces when removed.
The nest seems to be always placed in a hollow of some kind, often in a Yak’s footprint, under shelter of some low scrubby bush or tuft of coarse grass. The birds are never found breeding in the cultivated areas.
The full complement of eggs varies from two to four, perhaps three more often than any other number and two more often than four. They are exactly like the eggs of the preceding bird, and individual eggs could not possibly be discriminated. As a series they are much more grey rather than yellow-stone, and they are less unicoloured and more distinctly blotched. I have one clutch of four which has a grey ground quite boldly, almost handsomely, speckled and blotched with dark grey-brown and reddish-brown. Another clutch of three appears to be unicoloured dark sienna- brown, with blackish-brown caps at the larger end.
As in the eggs of the Long-billed Horned Lark, most eggs show quite a definite zone of darker colour at the bigger end.
Eighty eggs average 23.9 x 16.6 mm. : maxima 25.1 x 17.3 and 25.0 x 17.5 mm. ; minima 28.0 x 16.7 and 24.3 x 16.0 mm.
Among the birds said to have been shot off or trapped on the nest I have had two males sent me, so it is to be presumed that the male occasionally helps in incubation. Certainly both birds assist in making the nest, though the female seems to do most of the work.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 3. 1934.
Title in Book: 
1208. Otoeoris alpestris elwesi
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Tibetan Horned Lark
Eremophila alpestris elwesi
Vol. 3

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